In every career, you will be expected to uphold certain ethical standards and commitments. In many careers, you may be required to practice a careful attention to confidentiality, or to become an active participant in building inclusive work environments.

Steps You Can Take

Learn About Professional Ethics

Behaving and relating to others in an ethical manner underpins all effective leadership and collaboration, as well as your success in the other areas of competency discussed in this guide. For students in a specialized professional degree program, your profession might have a specific ethical code or standard that outlines responsibilities, values, or restrictions that should guide your conduct as a professional, such as the code of ethics for social workers developed by the National Association of Social Workers. Similarly, many academic disciplines also have a clear code of ethics, such as the American Sociological Association’s code of ethics for members. Researchers and teachers also often have clear ethical codes and responsibilities, which are discussed in the Research & Data Analysis and Teaching & Mentoring competencies of this guide. 

In areas of academic and professional life that do not have standardized ethical codes, ethical behavior remains important for building respectful and effective relationships with collaborators. At times, this might include following your own personal code of ethics, which might emphasize practicing certain behaviors, such as honesty, non-violent communication, or active listening. Other times, ethical behavior will be determined by the context. For example, if a research collaborator shares proprietary information, it would be ethical to assume such information was shared with an expectation of confidentiality and that you should seek their consent before sharing that information with anyone else. To develop your own personal or professional code of ethics, consider reviewing existing codes of ethics for ideas, or read the blog post by Skill Success, titled “How to Write Your Personal Code of Ethics.” It is important to familiarize yourself with and model ethical standards in order to be an effective leader and collaborator.  


Become a Leader in Fostering Inclusion

Across professional contexts, acting ethically includes fostering equitable and inclusive environments, relationships, and outcomes. Fostering equity and inclusion requires developing many important skills, which you can do by working through the Equity & Inclusion competency of this guide. With these skills, you will be ready to lead and collaborate across projects and teams effectively, including in your research and teaching. You can also take initiative to develop an environment of equity and inclusion by, for example, joining or starting a reading group for those in your discipline interested in diversifying the curriculum. Encourage your department to include content on anti-racist teaching practices and inclusive pedagogy in the departmental pedagogy course, if it doesn’t already. See if you can become one of your department’s delegates to the Graduate Assembly to support its mission of fostering a vibrant and inclusive graduate student community.